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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Our Farewell Post!

The first of many treasures from our vegetable patch!

Canada Day Weekend 2015

For the fifteenth consecutive year we celebrated the Canada Day weekend by gathering at the cottage with Tim and Bev and our husbands.  We always love to kick off the summer this way before we go our separate ways until September.  This year we especially wanted to create a “Canadian” menu for the benefit of our Polish guest, Michal, who has been here learning everything about barbecues for the past 2 months.  Maple syrup, blueberries and Canadian whisky popped into our minds, and we combined them all in a sweet and rich barbecue sauce for the ribs that had been smoking slowly on the Broil King Keg all afternoon.  

There were some lovely vegetables popping up in the garden and we served them along with asparagus and beets from the Belmont Local Food Market, and fresh garden peas.

We have really enjoyed sharing our recipes on this weekly blog over the past 5 years, but we are going to be shifting our focus to finishing off some other cookbook projects and exploring other ways to share our love of all foods grilled and smoked.  And for sure we will still enjoy gathering around the grill!  Thanks to all of you who have followed our posts and tried out our recipes.  Hope you've had fun too.

Yes there ARE fish in Lake Rosseau!

Michal braved the rain to get to mass on Sunday

Smoked Ribs with Maple-Whiskey Blueberry Sauce

4-6 racks pork back ribs
Place the prepared ribs on a rib rack above the smokey coals for an hour.

for the rub:
2 tbsp smoked paprika
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried tarragon

¼ cup Dijon mustard

Light the Broil King Keg and set it to a constant temperature of 225°F.  Scatter some soaked wood chips of your choice over the coals, and set a diffuser above. 

Remove the membrane from the back of each rack of ribs.  Mix all the rub ingredients together in a small bowl.  Coat the ribs all over with a thin layer of the mustard, then sprinkle with the rub. 

Arrange the prepared ribs in a rib rack and smoke for an hour.  Move them to a rib roaster or wrap tightly in foil.  Place the ribs back on the grill for 2 ½-3 hours.  Unwrap the ribs, place them directly on the grids, and baste generously with the Maple-Whiskey Blueberry Sauce for 20 minutes.  (see recipe below)
Maple-Whiskey Blueberry sauce

Baste generously with barbecue sauce for the last 20 minutes.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, minced
4 cups blueberries
1/4 cup rye whiskey
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp srirachi sauce
1 tsp each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large shallow pan, sauté the minced shallots. Add the blueberries and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes. Using a potato masher, crush the berries into a coarse mash. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 40-45 minutes, until the sauce has reduced by a third and has thickened. 

Baby Beet and Cherry Salad with Fresh Mint

This recipe was inspired during a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, home to a thriving local food culture.

2 lbs baby beets(4 cups)
2 lbs cherries, pitted(4 cups)
5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 tsp each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Fill a large saucepan with salted water and bring it to a boil. Add the beets, without removing tops or roots, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain water and let cool for 20 more minutes. Peel the beets and cut into quarters. Place in the refrigerator to finish cooling. In the meantime, remove the pits from the cherries and cut into quarters. Place cherries and beets into a large salad bowl and toss with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and fresh mint. Serve immediately

Baby zucchinis are delicious lightly grilled and served with shaved parmesan cheese.

No need to add anything to perfectly fresh steamed asparagus.

We braised these freshly shelled peas with shallots, lettuce and chicken stock.

It wasn't easy keeping Briar, Baldur, Wally and Sophie out of the vegetable garden all weekend!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Wild Leeks

Baldur and Wally were excited for our first foraging trip to the woods where we harvested a basket full of fragrant ramps, or wild leeks while they frolicked.  It was so magical to see the forest floor coming alive with wild flowers, and to hear the busy thrushes and red-winged blackbirds along the river. 

All weekend long we seasoned our dishes with the garlicky-oniony flavours:  from omelettes, to pasta dishes, and sauces to accompany grilled meat and fish.  While the raw ramps are very pungent, a quick grill or sauté mellows the flavours. 

Grilled Lamb Sirloins with Wild Leek Chimichurri

4-6 lamb sirloins

for the rub:
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt

for the Wild Leek Chimichurri
10-12 ramps, cleaned
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
¼ cup fresh mint
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Assemble the rub, and sprinkle it over all sides of the lamb.  Let stand at room temperature for ½ hour before grilling.

Meanwhile, cut the leaves off of the wild leeks, and discard ½ of them.  Roughly chop the white part of the ramps and place them in a blender or food processor with the remaining leaves, herbs, lemon zest and juice, and vinegar.  Add the olive oil in a stream while pulsing the blender.  Test-add the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Cover and let stand at room temperature. 

Preheat the barbecue on MEDIUM HIGH for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to MEDIUM LOW.  Holding one of the sirloins with tongs, run the fatty side of the meat along the hot grills to grease them well.  Lay that sirloin and the rest on the grill on a diagonal.  Close the lid and cook for 2 minutes, then flip to the other side on the same diagonal.  Cook for 2 minutes then flip to the other side on the opposite diagonal.  After 2 minutes, turn to the other side on the same diagonal for a final 2 minutes of cooking time.  Transfer to a platter or cutting board and tent with foil for 5 minutes before serving with the Chimichurri.  

Grilled Halibut and Ramps with Jalapeno-lime-ginger Sauce
We modified a sauce recipe from Modern Sauces, Martha Holmberg(2012) in order to use more of the beautiful ramps that we foraged last weekend. It was fresh and bright served over the grilled ramps and halibut.
2 halibut fillets (1 kg)
large handful ramps, well cleaned and trimmed
2 tbsp olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
zest of 1 lime

For the Sauce:
½ cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
¼ wine vinegar
2 tbsp minced ramps
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
6 tbsp butter, very cold, in one piece.
Sea salt

Preheat barbecue on HIGH for 5 minutes, then reduce to MEDIUM.
To prepare halibut for grilling by pat it dry with paper towels, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and lime zest and drizzle with olive oil.  Brush ramps lightly with oil. Set aside until ready to grill.
Place halibut and ramps on well oiled grids over direct heat and grill for 8-10 minutes. Remove from grids carefully, with a long, wide spatula and place on a platter. Garnish the halibut with the grilled ramps and drizzle with Jalapeno-lime-ginger sauce. Serve with extra sauce on the side.

Combine lime juice, wine vinegar, ramps, jalapeno pepper and grated ginger in a heavy-bottom sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until reduced by half. This will take approximately 5 minutes.

The next step is critical to the success of the sauce and should be done just before the halibut is being served.  Add the chunk of butter to the reduced sauce and move it around the pan with a fork or whisk.  As it start to melt, the sauce will bubble around the butter and will begin to look creamy. Keep stirring until the butter is just melted. Remove the pan from the heat and adjust the seasoning to taste, with sea salt and more lime juice, if desired.  Serve immediately.  The sauce was also delicious on the roasted fingerling potatoes and grilled corn that we prepared to accompany the halibut.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Barbecue-roasted Cauliflower and Kale with Bulgur Salad

We have been keeping our eyes pointed to the forest floor for the past week, looking for signs of ramps. Over the weekend, we noticed the ramp shoots poking out of the ground, so we will be scouring the edges of our secret forest, foraging for ramps for the next week or 2.  Wish us luck!! We promise to spend the weekend creating some delicious sauce recipes to compliment simple grilled dishes for next weeks blog.
In the meantime, here is our final grilled cauliflower recipe. It is perfect for families , since it is ideal as a main course for vegetarians, or as a healthy side dish to accompany grilled chicken.

Barbecue-roasted Cauliflower and Kale with Bulgur Salad

1 ½  cups water
pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup coarse wheat bulgur
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
4 cups kale leaves, massage, trim spine and chop
1 tbsp red curry paste
1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
½ cup red onion, chopped

Bring water, salt and black pepper to a boil and add bulgur. Stir, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, until bulgur is tender. Transfer to a bowl and fluff with a fork.  Cool.

Combine 2 tbsp of the olive oil and 2 tbsp of the fresh lime juice.  Add to the cooled bulgur with the chopped parsley and mint. Toss, cover and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, preheat barbecue on HIGH for 5 minutes and reduce to medium.  Turn off  the middle burner. In a large bowl, toss cauliflower florets and chopped red onion with 1 tbsp olive oil and red curry paste.  Spread on a grill tray and place on the barbecue over the unlit middle burner and grill indirectly for 25-30 minutes, until cauliflower is tender and golden brown.
  Meanwhile, toss chopped kale with 1 tbsp olive oil and ½ tsp each of salt and ground black pepper.  Spread out evenly on another grill pan and place on  the upper rack of the barbecue and grill along with the cauliflower for 15 minutes, until the kale is starting to brown and become crispy.

Combine roasted kale and cauliflower in a large bowl and toss with remaining 2 tbsp of fresh lime juice. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To serve: Spread bulgur salad on a large serving platter and pile high with the roasted cauliflower and kale.

Monday, April 20, 2015

First Warm Spring Dinner

The weather last week was spectacular! We enjoyed the week immensely, particularly during our early morning dog walks.....The warm sunshine and blue skies brought the best out of the plant and wild-life in Kitchener-Waterloo.  The birds were busy building nests and seeking out mates. There were hawks, geese, ducks, robins, cardinals and bluejays flying all around us. As the week progressed, the snow disappeared, the ground dried up and the trees, grass and flowers started to pop!

We decided to celebrate spring on Friday with cocktails on the patio at Andrea and Teds, and a simple dinner prepared on the barbecue.
While we are patiently waiting for the spring vegetables to appear, we have been using a lot of herbs to brighten up our winter dishes.  The sauces for both the Halibut and the cauliflower that we grilled are great examples of how fresh herbs can bring out the best of simple grilled foods.

Spicy Halibut with a Cooling Yogurt Herb Sauce

6 halibut fillets

for the spice rub:
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander seed
½ teaspoon paprika
pinch red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl.  Sprinkle them over the fish one hour before cooking.

Preheat the barbecue on MEDIUM HIGH.  Clean the grids thoroughly with a wire grill brush, and coat the grids with plenty of vegetable oil to prevent sticking.

Reduce the heat to MEDIUM LOW and place the fish flesh side down on a 45 ° angle.  Let cook for 2 ½ minutes before flipping over on the same 45 ° angle.  Cook another 2 ½ minutes, then flip to the other side on the opposite angle.  After 2  ½ minutes flip to the same angle for the last 2 ½ minute stretch.  Transfer to a serving platter.   To serve, coax a thin flat spatula between the skin and the flesh and transfer to a plate with a bed of lightly dressed greens.  Top with yogurt sauce, recipe follows.

Cooling Yogurt Herb Sauce

¾  cup low fat greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
grated zest of one lemon
1 ½ tablespoons minced red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Combine all the above ingredients in a small bowl.  Cover with wrap and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour while preparing the rest of the dish.  

Roasted Cauliflower with Sauce Vierge
adapted from Modern Sauces, 2012. Martha Holmberg

This recipe for Roasted Cauliflower may have appeared in our blog before, but it is the sauce that makes it such a special dish.  The flavours of all things green: herbs, olives, jalapeno peppers, pickles, lime…..pack a huge punch and raise the bland colour and flavour of cauliflower to new heights! 

2 large heads cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
1/3 cup olive oil3 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Sauce Vierge 

Preheat barbecue on HIGH for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to MEDIUM.
In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets  and thyme in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a grilling tray and place on the grids. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until the cauliflower is golden brown and tender.

 Place in a warmed serving bowl and drizzle generously with the Sauce Vierge.

Sauce Vierge

1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup pitted green olives, finely chopped
2 tbsp gherkins, finely chopped
1 tbsp shallots, mince
1 tbsp capers, drained, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 tsp jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tsp preserved lemon, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lime juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, toss together the parsley, basil, olives, gherkins, shallots, capers, jalapeno pepper, preserved lemon and garlic. Stir in the olive oil, then stir in the lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper. This highly savoury sauce should rest for 30 minutes, to allow the flavours to develop. It is best used within the hour. Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator in an air-tight container and use the next day on pasta or grilled meats.